Thursday 22 May 2014

Food Diversity on Vancouver Island

While the majority of food consumed on Vancouver Island is imported from off the island, there is a definite push and interest to make a wide variety of foods more available through island growers and harvesters.

Every sizable community on the island has a market at least seasonally, featuring local growers and their goods. The Comox Farmers Market on Saturday mornings is a food-only market featuring over 30 vendors and running from April through October. Other markets feature local artisans as well as food, such as the Campbell River Market on Sundays.

The climate and topography of Vancouver Island lends itself to agriculture. There are certain areas, such as Central Saanich outside of Victoria, the Cowichan Valley and the Comox Valley, which have attracted a large number of farms, both livestock and produce. These areas have farm guides every year so people can easily find what they want at a local farm. But other areas are beginning to attract growers as well, including many of the smaller islands (Saltspring, Quadra) and smaller cities such as Campbell River.

Of course, food sources are also available for anyone to collect. With the correct licences and in the correct seasons seafood is available to anyone. Berries such as blackberries, thimble berries, salmon berries and huckleberries are prolific throughout the island. In some of the more remote areas it is not unheard of to come across wild apple and plum trees, left overs from a time when homesteaders worked the land all across the island.

Finally, there are the back yard gardens and greenhouses to be found in many back yards. The climate that allows so many farmers to grow on the island also allows hobby gardeners to grow their own food. Fruit trees are abundant in urban/suburban and rural areas. And many local municipalities are now allowing or considering back yard chickens.

Vancouver Island presents a great opportunity for people who are interested in local food and agricultural products;  from hothouse cucumbers to lettuce, tomatoes to potatoes, wine to bison and corn to strawberries and so much more, the Island growers provide.

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